Night Light: Multi-Media Garden Party at SOMArts

One chilly San Francisco Saturday night, a thousand miles away from Flux Factory’s recent Nightlight exhibition, SOMArts presented an opening to be reckoned with: their own garden party full of local food and booze, video art, and performance entitled Night Light. The event encompassed both Projected Personae, an exhibition curated by Justin Hoover highlighting different works exploring identity through video and performance; and Signal Flow, a one-night-only showcase of video and sculpture co-curated by Justin Hoover, Matea Fish, and Elia Vargas dealing with “information flow, water, and new visual landscapes.”

What caught this blogger’s eye was Fernanda D’Agostino‘s Pool, a video installation that activates in response to the viewer’s presence. Before the wall projection sits a large, lonely bowl on which the video continues, distorting and being distorted by the projection. The video presents choreographer Linda Johnson submerged in water, gracefully writhing in an scene reminiscent of some prenatal limbo, intermittently interrupted by scenes of a burning home and the phrase “Ars Memoriae.” Playing with issues of identity and memory, the piece utilizes water as its main ingredient, even including a large lifeguard’s chair atop which the viewer is invited to view and bathe in the work’s environment.

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Presented in conjunction with San Francisco’s art and music biennial Soundwave – whose current theme is water – Pool is a meditation on self and memory nestled entirely in the world of elements. The cool blues and ethereal choreography of the water scenes gently transition into wood and fire, each constructing separate yet complimentary environments in the small room to which the viewer is confined. Containing scenes from the artist’s own memory (the burning home was once hers, for instance) the work contemplates the inherent and inescapable connections between humanity – in terms of the private mind of the individual rather than the collective – and the raw processes and materials of the world. At its core, the work is a compelling unification of the animate and the inanimate, the human and the utterly non-human. We impress our environment with meaning, using it as a vessel for our emotions and memories; for D’Agostino, water is the ultimate cultural artifact, a material that both contains and presents her subconscious.

Other works of note include Fictilis‘ work in SOMArts’ entrance hall, a two-channel video installation presenting various interspecific interactions, both violent and adorable. Including rhinoceroses and bulls brutally mauling one another as a dog and crow calmly play with a ping pong ball on the next screen over, the work mocked, reveled in, and debunked our collective obsession with the animal all at once. Seen entirely through the very human eye of the video camera, the various interactions present the deep absurdity of our conception of the animal. A collective project by Andrea Steves and Timothy Furstnau, Fictilis often confront environmental and cultural issues and oddities. More of their work can currently be found at the Science Gallery in Dublin for Strange Weather, a group exhibition also containing other works that you can expect to be covered by Artvironmentalist in the near future.

There’s much more to speak on, but for now, have a look through the photos below. More information on Projected Personae can be found here.

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Words and pictures by Patrick Jaojoco. Works by Eric Staller, Fernanda D’Agostino, Jeff Ray, Alan Ellison, and Chelsea Akita.

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